Friday, June 1, 2018

Principal at closing school accuses Superintendent of sexual harassment

Patricia Williams, Crotona Academy principal  (credit: Daily News)
Yesterday, Ben Chapman of the NY Daily News wrote an explosive story about how Patricia Williams, the principal of Crotona Academy, had filed a complaint with the NY State Division of Human Rights, claiming she was sexually harassed by the Superintendent of Transfer schools Paul Rotondo in February 2016.

She further reported that after she rebuffed his advances, he announced that he would close her school.  Sure enough, this past April, the Panel for Educational Policy voted 7 to 5 to approve the Superintendent Rotondo's proposal to do just that.

In a follow-up story, the DOE says they will investigate the allegations against Rotondo, though they are sticking by their determination to close the school, which they claim "was made after a careful review of multiple measures of school performance and in the best interest of student and families."

Crotona Academy,  in good standing with the state, is a Bronx high school for under-credited students who have failed at high schools elsewhere; one Crotona student said he had attended five different schools and this was the first one in which he felt he could be successful.  At the Panel for Education Policy meeting on April 25,  many  Crotona students passionately echoed these sentiments and some warned that they would drop out if the school was closed.

I wrote previously about the heartbreaking PEP meeting where every single Panel member appointed by the Mayor voted to rubber-stamp the closing of this school; with only the Borough President appointees voting no, despite the fervent pleas of  students, parents and teachers.

In the same blog post, I also reported on the Mayor's dismissive comments that morning about why there were so few sexual harassment complaints that the DOE has substantiated.  De Blasio claimed that this resulted from an unjustified "culture of complaint" at the agency, comments he later took back when they provoked a storm of criticism.

In a subsequent post, I went on to explore the culture of corruption at DOE,  following the series of articles by Sue Edelman in the NY Post revealing how several NYC principals found guilty in civil court of having sexually abused teachers have kept their jobs and their six-figure salaries because of the failure of DOE to properly investigate these cases.

Never did I think that unchecked sexual harassment at DOE and unfair school closures would be linked, but at least in the instance of Crotona Academy they allegedly were.

Here is a fact sheet prepared by the school, disputing much of the data used by the DOE to justify its closure. There will also be a federal lawsuit to block the closure.

Below is a copy of Patricia Williams' complaint, and below that, a segment from WOR TV Chasing News about Crotona Academy, as well as some additional links about the vote to close the school.








Crotona Academy Closure-Performance video at PEP Rally April 25, 2018


Crotona Academy School Closure Vote (Chalkbeat)


A Bronx High School Protests Its Closure (WNYC)

Will DeBlasio Close Another School for At-Risk Students? (Diane Ravitch blog)

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